E37 COM_B in 2023 with Professor Robert West

Season #3

In this episode we chat with the King of COM_B Professor Robert West as we discuss his popular behavioural science model --- COM_B --- As one of the original authors alongside Susan Michie and Lou Atkins we explore with Professor West how he feels about the success and popularity of the framework.

We cover the basics

  • What is COM-B and how did it come about?
  • What are some of the benefits of using behavioural science?

We chat about his current work with the new Welsh Behavioural Science Unit and their joint publication Improving health and wellbeing: A guide to using behavioural science in policy and practice: (Co-Author Ashley Gould) with a focus on:

  • What is the egocentric bias and how can it be overcome?
  • The NEAR and AFAR framework.

3 AHA moments

  • The COM_B framework was inspired by Perry Mason. We didn’t know that when we developed the Murder Mystery COM_B training! (We were inspired by Death in Paradise.)
  •  Egocentric bias is where we rely too heavily on our own opinions. We all have it to some degree so when running the COM_B analysis to overcome the egocentric bias always treat your perspective as a hypothesis until and unless you get insight or data from other sources to make you more confident.
  • NEAR and AFAR are frameworks to help you design your intervention once you have completed your COM_B analysis. It works with the Behaviour Change Wheel.

Episode Outline

[00:01:07] - Thank you for your support

[00:02:11] - 2022 By the Data

[00:03:07] - 2023 2 Words to live By

[00:06:00] - A dosage of Kindness at the core

[00:08:15] - Introducing guest Robert West

[00:10:06] - Rise of COM-B Model

[00:12:56] - COM-B Model value in other markets and vertices

[00:14:51] - Wales creating a behavior science guide

[00:19:30] - Straight from the principles

[00:23:07] - Breaking down Egocentric bias

[00:25:57] - Energise: The secrets of motivation

[00:28:13] - Treat your Perspective as a Hypothesis

[00:29:13] - The NEAR-AFAR framework

[00:33:57] - Health and Well-being is a shared responsibility



“The popularity of COM-B is due to its ability to provide a formal framework for a concept that has long been intuitively understood by many” Professor Robert West

Approximately mentioned @ 00:10:06

  “The COM-B model provides a starting point for understanding behaviour change, allowing you to use the four elements of normal, easy, attractive, and routine to determine the right behaviour change techniques to use in a given context.” Professor Robert West

Approximately mentioned @ 00:29:33


Recommended Book

Tools for Thought, by Waddington (1977)


Guest Resources/useful links



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